Earlier this week, in honour of what would have been Diana, Princess of Wales’s 60th birthday, Kensington Palace debuted a much-publicised statue of the late royal in the Sunken Gardens. Designed by British artist Ian Rank-Broadley – best known for creating effigies of the Queen for British coinage since 1998 – the polarising sculpture depicts Diana surrounded by three children, a nod to the vast amount of philanthropic work she completed in her 36 years. Yet her style of dress in the bronze work is also telling.
As noted by Kensington Palace, Diana’s outfit in the statue – a loose blouse tucked into a fitted pencil skirt –?is “based on the final period of her life as she gained confidence in her role as an ambassador for humanitarian causes and aims to convey her character and compassion”, and while the Palace neglected to mention any specific inspiration for Rank-Broadley’s likeness, one key reference is clearly Diana’s first Christmas card after separating from Prince Charles.
Many of the royal family’s Christmas activities are dictated by traditions started by Queen Victoria, who famously triggered the widespread adoption of Christmas trees in Britain. She also became the first royal to send out Christmas cards en masse, a practice the Queen and the house of Windsor more broadly have all continued through the years – including Diana herself. Her choice of portrait for her festive tidings in 1993? An image of herself with Princes William and Harry.